Brain and nervous system are the most affected by vitamin B12 deficiency, because it causes the decrease in the amount of red blood cells in the body, which leads to your body lacking oxygen, and lacking oxygen prevents your brain to function at full capacity. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause serious neurological damage if left untreated; therefore it is very important to diagnose the problem early, and to treat it effectively.
Whereas both men and women can suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency, in this article we are going to focus on symptoms of this health disorder that are common in women.
Irregular menstrual cycle
Many women can experience irregular menstrual cycles because of vitamin B12 deficiency. The symptoms are: irregular length and the amount of bleeding during the cycle. Whereas such irregularities do not necessarily mean that the vitamin B12 deficiency is involved, it certainly is worth checking into, especially if such irregularities repeat for a longer period of time.
Pregnancy and lactation
Pregnant and lactating women have more risk of suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency because both the mother and her fetus, and later on the infant, need significant daily doses of vitamin B12. This is why it is essential for women to regularly take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Those vitamins contain even higher doses of vitamin B12 than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), but there are absolutely no risks of hypervitaminosis, because the toxicity of vitamin B12 is considered to be very low.
It is recommended that pregnant women increase the daily intake of vitamin B12 by about 10%, and lactating women should increase the daily intake by about 20%.
Even if the vitamin B12 deficiency occurs during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is very likely that the mother’s body will recover without any serious damage, because of the temporary nature of the situation that caused the deficiency. However, there are women who do experience all the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, and they suffer from concentration problems, depression, emotional disturbance, sleeping disorder, and sometimes even mental fatigue and hallucinations.
As vitamin B12 is not found in vegetables, vegetarian women are more suffering from this health disorder. This also means that the infants who are breastfeeding from vegetarian mothers are more at risk from vitamin B12 deficiency.
As vitamin B12 takes active function in forming red blood cells in one’s body, the deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause anemia. Specific type of anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency is called pernicious anemia. It occurs when a body is unable to absorb vitamin B12 from the gastrointestinal tract.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency caused by anemia are the following:
- Chronic fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Various digestion problems
- Sore tongue or bleeding gums